More Mediocrity on the Way


Election Analysis

In recent months the Fremantle Society has covered many issues as it sought to engage the community and promote better quality outcomes. There have been the results of the community satisfaction surveys, the vexed design and financial aspects of King’s Square, the poor quality of many of the new developments, the continual selling off of income-producing assets at often bargain prices, and the dumb deals like buying the Dockers out, and wasting millions on a depot site that isn’t being used. Etc. Etc.

But here we are in the week when the ballot papers start coming out, and all we have seen is the press giving the mayor endless photo opportunities, with little scrutiny. The mayoral debate tonight will be but a blip in the radar unless the media report the differing points of view in detail and give Ra a chance to get her message across. It has been tough for the sole contender against the incumbent to get traction when every time she explains why she is running she gets accused of being ‘negative’. That tactic is used by the mayor and his coterie of councillors all the time.

Failure to Tap into Fremantle’s Expertise

The single biggest failure of the mayor and his acolytes has been the dismissal of those who are not part of the ‘team Brad’. In the past 8 years, as he has energetically gone about his mantra of ‘revitalisation’, the mayor has ignored the very people who have the expertise to nurture and navigate change, without damaging the very thing that brings people to Fremantle in the first place – its heritage and character. Instead he has allied himself closely with developers, and those who think loud music and alcohol are planning tools.

The spin and party politics have been so pervasive in this election that some Fremantle Society members who contemplated getting involved, simply walked away. There are still five Fremantle Society members contesting the elections, and five former members.

In City Ward, while there is no doubt Adin Lang is charismatic and genuinely useful on green issues, Lynda Wayman seriously well qualified but seen as the mayor’s candidate, and Roel Loopers well intentioned but a total ‘flip flop’ on issues, the candidate who would best scrutinise council and who has done the hard yards in preparation is Claudia Green. There is another candidate Julie Morgan, who did so much modernisation to the heritage facade of her building (Bairds Buildings between P&O and Orient in High Street), that she should not be eligible to run, except perhaps out of town.

In North and East Ward there is no real contest. Talented and experienced former Fremantle Society President Jenny Archibald is running in East Ward with the support of the mayor and should win easily. In Beaconsfield the popular Fedele Camarda is up against the Labor Party machinery, and in South Ward Marija Vujcic offers reality and hope for some level-headedness against Cr Sullivan, who has done more damage than most councillors in recent years, and the young and determined Greens candidate Liam Carter. In Hilton the quietly talented and sensible Catherine Hammond is up against the Socialist Alliance incumbent Cr Wainwright.

What You Will Get After the Election

Finally, when the election is over and you wake up to what is hiding around the corner, take a good long look at the next monstrosity (at the top of this page) to be inflicted on Fremantle thanks to Dr Pettitt and Andrew Sullivan and their scheme amendment 49 in particular.

The plans are currently before the Design Advisory Committee (photo Roel Loopers blog).

Remember – Mayoral Debate Tuesday (tonight) 6.30 at Notre Dame

This Election Should be About Quality

The two pictures here are indicative of the problems the community faces when developers not only push the boundaries as to what is allowed to be built, but then inflict on their communities a quality of architecture that is utterly inappropriate, unloveable, and NOT the ‘heritage of the future,’ Dr Pettitt keeps promising us.

The first photograph here is from Bayswater, showing plans from the Fremantle based Yolk Property Group for something that has locals seething. The second image is from the Yolk website showing the new 4 storey building they have inflicted on the West End, described by one long term resident as ‘the worst building in the West End.’

This election should be about getting not only value for money (our council property assets have crashed from $60 million to $20 million under Dr Pettitt) but BETTER QUALITY.

The Fremantle Society has repeatedly asked for a proper review of the Design Advisory Committee of Fremantle Council, which costs $1,000 an hour in fees to run. The Chairman is still Professor Geoffrey London, who was nominated for the committee by the mayor 8 years ago, and who, at the very first meeting of the committee, rejoiced at plans revealed for 18 storeys on the Coles Woolstore site opposite the railway station. The committee, and mayor and council, have failed to prevent poor quality developments in Fremantle, damaging to the value of Fremantle as a special place.

Nominations Have Closed

Nominations for council elections closed at 4pm today.

Some candidates have been scared off by the juggernaut of Labor politics and its influence in these local elections, and by the hostile social media campaigns attacking anyone as being negative who dares question Fremantle Council.

For the mayoral position, only Ra Stewart has put her hand up to take on the incumbent Dr Pettitt. The mayor Dr Pettitt, on his nomination form, states that he delivers ‘sound financial governance’ when the reality is that the government website MyCouncil rated Fremantle as having the WORST financial management of any metropolitan council. A score of 70 represents sound financial health. Fremantle Council is rated a 42. By comparison, our neighbours, Melville, have a rating of 98.

The alarm bells should be ringing. The community cannot afford another four years of this.

Dr Pettitt also says there has been ‘better community consultation’, whereas the latest community satisfaction survey shows in the How the Community is Consulted section, that satisfaction has DROPPED since the last survey. 31% think consultation is excellent or good, but 41% think it is terrible or poor.

Given that Dr Pettitt has received around $1 million of ratepayers’ money since elected, he should tell the truth about the actual results so far after 8 years as mayor, and deliver what he keeps promising.

For North Ward, high rise advocate Michele Corbo will run against incumbent Doug Thompson.

In South Ward, Greens candidate Liam Carter will run against incumbent ‘ex Green’ candidate Cr Sullivan, who advertises himself as a ‘recognised leader’ and a ‘heritage expert’. No comment needed. Jennifer Suffling, Maria Vujcic, and Ben Moodie round off an interesting group.

For Hilton, Catherine Hammond is standing against incumbent Socialist Cr Wainright.

In Beaconsfield, Fedele Camarda will run against the Labor Party’s Hannah Fitzhardinge.

In East Ward, Michelle Cunningham will run against Jenny Archibald.

In City Ward, Roel Loopers, Adin Lang, Claudia Green, Lynda Wayman, and Julie Morgan will contest that seat.

What Happened in 2009?

An interesting book entitled To the Beach lies on the shelf of New Editions. It posits that the North Port Quay issue of 2009 was a defining issue that shaped politics in Fremantle since.

It is not often that a whole book is devoted to one local Fremantle issue. One reviewer wrote:

Ever since Rats in the Ranks we have known that local politics can be fascinating. Thor Kerr provides a heady analysis of the volatile swirl of sentiment, advertising, politics, activism and sheer opportunism that determined the outcome of a key development in Fremantle in 2009. Kerr has a keen eye for capturing public personalities with a telling detail, and brings the tools of cultural analysis to bear on media stories, images, policy documents and popular discourses. Both as a Fremantle local and a cultural theorist I learned a lot about the mechanics and machinations by which conflicts of development, environmentalism, heritage and local politics played out on this particular ground – and indeed continue to reverberate through the city. PROFESSOR SUVENDRINI PERERA, CURTIN UNIVERSITY

Mayoral Debate

The Fremantle Society has for a long time been a co-sponsor of political debates in Fremantle.

Cr Pemberton and the Chamber of Commerce, also co-sponsors, tried to get rid of the Fremantle Society this time, by having us excluded.

But, we are back, at the insistence of the university, and would like to invite you all to the next mayoral debate at Tannock Hall (University of Notre Dame), Cliff Street, on Tuesday 3rd October at 6pm. More details later.

Public Art – What are we Getting?

The Fremantle Society is keen to see high quality urban art to to ensure high quality streetscapes. This is the letter we wrote this week to the Director of Planning:

to: The Director of Planning Mr Paul Garbett

Dear Paul,

The Fremantle Society keen to see high quality public art and high quality restoration projects, but is concerned with the effectiveness of the Percent for Art Program.

The intention of the program was to provide money for heritage or public art. Developers have to spend 1% of the value of their project either on public art or heritage works.

This is an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the public realm with art that is loved and appreciated and which enhances the urban streetscape on a permanent basis, or heritage improvements that add to the authenticity of Fremantle.

It would appear that what the public have received so far has in most cases been very poor quality art installations, often affixed to the property of the developer.

Examples:

a) The Fremantle Society wrote to council about the unattractive sheets of blue plastic on the Quest apartments at 8 Pakenham Street and were told that council was satisfied that those few sheets constituted the developers requirement for $140,000 worth of public art.

The developer was also required to produce an archeological report. The Fremantle Society has read the detailed and excellent report, but is dismayed to see that such an important site, where the largest private house in the State once stood, is not interpreted in any meaningful way for residents or tourists. Council should have insisted that the archaeological report form part of the brief for interpretive work carried out and then monitor the outcomes of the program.

b) 50 Pakenham Street: This dismal four storey development has a metal disc stuck on the side of the building which appears to represent the required percent for art.

c) Atwell Arcade Project: The Fremantle Society asks what was the percent for art requirement for this project? There are a series of metal poles recently installed in the High Street Mall which many people find offensive, intrusive, and interfering with views of the Town Hall and High Street. Do those poles constitute the required public art from Silverleaf?

d) The King’s Square project is a $270 million project, meaning that $2.7 million needs to be spent on public art of heritage. Can we have details of what is proposed there please?

e) The LIV apartment complex currently being built in Queen Victoria Street is a $61 million project, meaning that $610,000 is required to be spent on art or heritage, a sizeable sum.

We ask (i) What works are projected to be created with that $610,000? (ii) Can we please have a copy of the archaeological study done for that important historic site?

Regards

____________________________

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society
0409 22 36 22

You and Your Council

Six Fremantle Society Candidates

With the withdrawal of Mike Finn from the October election race, there are now six candidates who are currently members of the Fremantle Society, and a further five who are former members. A new candidate joined the race today, who is not a member of the Fremantle Society, Adin Lang for City Ward, as predicted by the Fremantle Society.

Whether the candidates support the ideals and objectives and issues of the Fremantle Society is largely up to members. We need members to be informed, active, and engaged. The Fremantle Society continues to work to encourage people to run and continues to provide issues for discussion.

While Fremantle has a commendable percentage of eligible voters filling out their postal votes, 65% of eligible voters do not vote.

Fremantle Herald

With just weeks to go, the Fremantle Herald again this week had not one letter about the elections. Last week’s paper featured the mayor Dr Pettitt over the whole of the front page. This week we get the mayor’s photo again, along with the Labor candidate for Beaconsfield, Hannah Fitzhardinge. Over the page is the Greens candidate for South Ward, Liam Carter, and an article having a dig at the Fremantle Society (which is trying to focus on the big issues).

This bias has nothing to do with the full page ads the council runs each week in the Herald. Today’s full page ad from Fremantle Council features verge mowing, strangely just reintroduced weeks before an election with a personalised and expensive mail out to every resident, along with a reminder about the upcoming spraying by council of poison all over our parks.

What did you think?

The Fremantle Society wants to see the results of the 2017 Catalyse Fremantle Community Survey well before the election, because the 2015 results were alarming enough. In 2015 the following survey categories showed a DECLINE compared with 10 years earlier when Peter Tagliaferri was mayor and Cr Pettitt first joined council.

– council leadership (down)

– open and transparent council (down)

– how community is consulted (down)

– how community is informed (down)

– control of anti social behaviour (down)

– how heritage is preserved (down)

– streetscapes (down from 83% satisfaction to 69%)

– parks and green spaces (down)

– care for seniors (down)

– disability access (down)

– footpaths and cycleways (down)

– rubbish and recycling (down)

– planning and approvals (down)

– economic development (down from 72% satisfied to 40%)

– parking in city centre (down)

Among positive results were youth facilities and festivals.

King’s Triangle

The two images above represent the proposed $50 million administration centre. Fremantle’s senior architect Rob Campbell has written to the Fremantle Society after examining the latest plans. Kerry Hill architects are getting $1.2 million for their drawings, and major problems raised when the plans were first released still exist, Rob believes.

Rob Campbell says the only reason for an underground library, which the staff don’t want, was the initial demand for upper floor office space. But that demand has gone, and the whole building could be pushed up to avoid the unpleasant and expensive to build underground library, leaving off the top floor which council want to keep as a speculative investment (costing $5.4 million to build).

Rob Campbell told the Fremantle Society: “Whoever is pushing the design is making it more expensive and less of a civic building.”

Rob Campbell is concerned with the sharp angular nature of the building, especially when viewed from the corner of High and Newman Streets (near the crosswalk next to Myer). He said the sharp angular turn of the building at such an acute angle is “architecturally awful and not in the Fremantle tradition. It is a terrible mistake which undermines the architectural presentation.” He said it was council playing developer and not creating a civic space, because that awkward corner retail space would be difficult to rent and would compete with the adjacent Sirona development.

Rob Campbell also believes that the new building should pay greater respect to the historic Town Hall, with greater separation from it.

The full text of Rob Campbell’s analysis will be made available.

Contracts for this unnecessary council headquarters will not be signed until next year and the Fremantle Society still believes its vision for a true town square without this building is a better long term option.

John Dowson
President
john.dowson@yahoo.com

Greater Fremantle – Opinion Piece by President John Dowson

Fremantle must grow its boundaries. It has a population not much greater than 100 years ago

greater-fremantle-044367b2-e2b1-49fe-891a-d3a5b9f6402aFremantle Society Support Area left of Blue Line Below Being Added to Fremantle at the Moment

Adin Lang initiated a Greater Fremantle campaign but was hung out to dry at a large public meeting last week at Hilton PCYC when he was given no support from Fremantle Council. The Herald reported that Fremantle Deputy Mayor Coggin and councillor Hume were present but did not speak because “Fremantle had not officially endorsed the boundary shift”.

But Fremantle Council encouraged Adin Lang to pursue the boundary reform and will be making a submission supporting the same boundary extensions. Adin Lang was told Fremantle Council would attend the meeting and participate. Cr Coggin, who is paid $1,000 a week to represent Fremantle’s interests, and Cr Hume attended the meeting but said nothing.

The incendiary meeting, with vehement criticism of Fremantle Council, follows other rejections of a larger Fremantle, when East Fremantle overwhelmingly voted to stay independent of Fremantle, and hundreds of North Fremantle residents more recently voted to leave Fremantle and join Mosman Park.

The Society’s preferred option

Earlier the Fremantle Society met with Adin Lang and was impressed with his passion for Fremantle. Although not agreeing with his proposed area which includes Hamilton Hill, the Fremantle Society did agree to make a submission seeking the area south of Fremantle to the South Fremantle Power Station to be added to the municipal boundary of Fremantle on the basis of historical and heritage associations.

While more modest that the current Greater Fremantle push, it is considered more achievable at the moment, and more relevant to Fremantle and the area is shown in the map above being to the left of the blue line. The area sought by Greater Fremantle is bounded in red. The yellow line is the current southern border of Fremantle.

Council’s survey

The animosity towards Fremantle Council as shown at last week’s meeting is developing, and spending $200,000 a year on another newsletter (The Pulse) in addtion to all its other communication is not the answer. The answers can be found in an analysis of the Catalyse Survey done in 2015 about Fremantle Council’s performance, and a comparison with other councils and former councils.

While the $30,000 survey found Fremantle Council did well with festivals and youth, in almost every single category of the survey Fremantle Council did worse than the industry average.

Around 25 councils are surveyed each time. Fremantle came in 18th. Here are some findings of those ‘very satisfied’ with the average of all councils in brackets. In many cases satisfaction rates were higher in 2005 when Peter Tagliaferri was mayor.

Some statistics

Overall satisfaction with council: 29% (average 39%)

Satisfaction with council leadership: 21% (average 26% – was higher in 2005)

Openness and Transparency: 14% (average 23% – was higher in 2005)

How Community is Consulted: 19% (average 22% – was higher in 2005)

How Community is Informed: 19% (average 27% – was higher in 2005

Control of graffiti and anti social behaviour: 19% (average 35% – was higher in 2005)

Streetscapes: 26% (average 37% – was higher in all previous surveys)

Parks and Green Spaces: 45% (average 57% – was higher in 2005)

Seniors: 23% (average 40% – was higher in 2005)

The most worrying finding perhaps relates to community perceptions about economic development. Only 6% were very satisfied compared with the average of 14%. 40% were ‘satisfied’ but the figure in 2005 was 70%.

In terms of how the city centre is being developed only 17% were ‘very satisfied” . The average among councils was 33%.

Parking remains an issue – only 15% very satisfied against an average of 27% for all councils.

Having paid for these survey results, council should be held accountable and made to improve.